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Monday, January 08, 2007

Best Ivory-billed Woodpecker Sighting Yet?

Auburn University researchers are reporting on a single-observer close-range encounter with a female Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Unfortunately, camera failure kept them from getting a photo. The sighting sounds very interesting. Here's hoping for more evidence soon.

7 comments:

Craig Tufts, NWF Naturalist said...

Can't wait to get some details on this latest sighting.

As for the camera flub--turn it on, take off the lens cap, make sure you have film or a memory card in the camera, then hope you have space on the memory card, that you haven't mistakenly set the device to "snow" mode, etc. By then bird is 40 big tupelos away and still flying. Bet the brain print of the viewer(s)is excellent however hard to share it might be.

John said...

That sort of situation just begs for having a manual focus film camera as a backup. The equipment is cheap and easily obtained, and the searcher doesn't have to wait for the camera to turn on and the autofocus to settle down and focus on the right thing. Sure, it has its downsides, but so does digital photography.

Patrick Coin said...

Two points, the first one short, the second one long:

1-Every autofocus SLR I have seen has a simple switch to set the focus to manual. Usually it is labeled "AF-MF".

2-How many times do we have to hear "the autofocus ate my Ivory-bill photo", or, "I had a camera, but I just put it away when the Ivory-bill appeared"? As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said: "It's deja vu all over again"! Here is my accounting of how many times that photo has "just been missed", and of searches by people with cameras:

-1999: James Kullivan reports observing a pair of Ivory-bills in the Pearl River of Louisiana. He has a camera with him (in his backpack), but did not attempt a photograph, fearing to scare the birds.

-2002: A month-long follow-up expedition in the Pearl River by six searchers with cameras and audio equipment, finds nothing.

-2003: Mary Scott gets a great look at an Ivory-bill in Arkansas but happens to have left her video camera on the seat of her car.

-2004-05: Cornell University researchers report seven sightings for 2004-05, but only one ambiguous video is obtained. They apparently had the camera set on auto focus, getting nice, clear shots of their canoe paddles--the putative Ivory-bill in the distance was fuzzy.

-Incidentally, the same Cornell researchers obtain good photos of a Pileated with an abnormal white patch on the wing and of an albino Pileated in the White River, Arkansas area, proving that they do have working cameras.

-10 April 2004: one of the Cornell researchers, Ph.D. ornithologist Melinda LaBranche, had just put her video camera into a waterproof bag when an Ivory-bill showed up. See her story here.

2004: Bobby Harrison, one of the authors of the original 2005 paper in Science, is billed as "an award-winning photographer", but he cannot get a photo, despite encountering the Ivory-bill five separate times.

-2005-06: Cornell fields 22 biologists and 112 volunteers, all equipped with hand-held digital video cameras with microphones, in Arkansas. Results are "No definitive or confirmed visual encounters took place during the 2005–06 field season." Meaning: no photos, no video. By my reading, that is 134 observers, say, in teams of two, each with a camera, or only one camera per team--at least sixty-plus cameras for months. Maybe it is actually 134 cameras!

-2005-06: Auburn team reports 14 sightings in Florida, but gets no photographs.

Nobody can get an unambiguous photograph of these large, diurnal birds, present in at least two (three?) states. People have been prowling around in these areas since 1999. What gives?

Amy Lester said...

People have been prowling around in these areas since 1999. What gives?

There might be a weird anomaly with the bird's colors and the way they interact with camera lenses.

There is a first time for everything you know.

And nobody has proved that such an anomaly is impossible

Therefore, the IBWO is not extinct, as some have claimed.

/TB-channelling off

Anonymous said...

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extinct.

P.M.Tongier

IBWO Atheist said...

Nature Photography Step One:

Pick a subject that actually exists. There are more than a million described species to choose from.

wengchun said...

well, i read the article on national geographic not long ago. so, another ivory-billed woodpecker sighting? let's hope there is a clear photographic evidence or video footage....

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